The new Case-Shiller report finds that prices are still falling, but not quite as fast. But eight of 19 cities hit new lows in January, and prices nationwide are at 2003 levels.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 27, 2012 10:20AM

House made of wooden bricks on computerized graph(© Gregor Schuster/Corbis)We have good news and bad news in the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Housing Market Index: Prices are still falling, but they're not falling quite as fast.

 

That may mean the market is approaching bottom.

 

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for January found that prices dropped in 16 of 19 cities from December, with Miami, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., the notable exceptions (there were no data for Charlotte, N.C., this month). Year over year, prices dropped in all the cities except Detroit, Phoenix and Denver.

 

A New Hampshire woman has racked up $13,800 in penalties for refusing to remove her daisies and irises. The board argues that all the grounds are common areas.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 26, 2012 12:12PM

A New Hampshire homeowner is facing a penalty of more than $13,800 because her condo association doesn't like her flowers.

 

Kimberly Bois planted a garden at her Portsmouth, N.H., condominium in 2008 with the permission of the developer. Her blooms include daisies, bearded irises, lavender, hydrangeas and tulips, some of which came from heirloom plants in her late mother's garden.

 

Last fall, her condo association demanded that she remove the flowers and now is asking her to pay for contractors approved by the association to rip them out. She has received 13 registered letters demanding that she cease and desist in growing her garden. A fine of $25 a day grew to $50 a day. So far, the association says she owes $5,800 in fines and $8,000 in attorney fees and has placed a lien on her unit.

 

Pending sales fell slightly in February, though they are up from last year. Analysts disagree over what that means for the spring selling season.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 26, 2012 11:04AM

Woman in front of sale sign with fingers crossed (© SuperStock)The number of contracts to buy homes signed in February was 0.5 points lower than in the previous month but 9.2% above the level of a year ago.

 

The National Association of Realtors' Pending Home Sales Index stood at 96.5 in February, down from 97 in January but up from 88.4 in February 2011. Analysts disagreed over what the number means for the spring selling season.

 

Usually, the number of contracts is an indication of the number of sales we'll see a few months down the road, but the last year has seen a large number of contract cancellations.

 

A price increase, coupled with budding builder optimism, could mean that brighter days are ahead, however.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Mar 23, 2012 8:46AM

© David Papazian/Getty ImagesThe Commerce Department announced today that new-home sales in February dropped 1.6% from January's total to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000. Following January's dip, the sales pace is down about 7% from December's strong showing.

 

Despite the month-to-month slip, sales volume was up 11.4% compared with February 2011. The median sale price for new homes also increased, by 6.2% from February 2011 to $233,700 — an 8.3% jump from January and the highest reading since June.

 

Coupled with reports of more building permits being issued and homebuilder confidence remaining stable, hope springs eternal.

 

Of the areas Trulia.com tracked, renting was more expensive than buying in every city but Honolulu and San Francisco.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Mar 21, 2012 1:26PM

Comstock Images/JupiterimagesAll those people you hear talking about how renting a home, rather than buying, is simply throwing your money away? Well, in many cases, there's a bit of truth to that.

 

The latest Rent vs. Buy Index from real-estate website Trulia.com says that in all but two of the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, it's more cost-effective to buy than to rent. Only Honolulu and San Francisco ranked as iffy bets for owners, based on potential buyers' tax bracket and if they itemize their tax deductions.

 

Detroit, Oklahoma City and Dayton, Ohio, ranked as the top U.S. cities in which homebuying presented a greater value than renting, based on Trulia's ratio.

 

Despite slipping from January's numbers, existing-home sales increased 8.8% from February 2011. Home prices also posted first annual gain since late 2010.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Mar 21, 2012 9:14AM

© Nick White/Cultura/Getty Images
Maybe 2012 won't be quite so apocalyptic after all.

 

The National Association of Realtors today reported 4.59 million existing-home sales in February, down 0.9% from January's 4.63 million sales but up 8.8% from February 2011. Although February's seasonally adjusted volume was lower than Dow Jones economists had expected, according to The Wall Street Journal, it did mark the highest level for the typically chilly month in five years.

 

If you also add January's strong sales showing to the equation, the housing market is off to its fastest start since 2007.

 

HARP 2.0 will provide refinancing to borrowers who owe more than 125% of what their home is worth. To participate, borrowers must be current on payments.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 20, 2012 2:23PM

© Peter Gridley/Getty ImagesThe latest version of the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program went into full swing this week.

 

The program, which officially began in December but wasn't fully available until this week, now allows homeowners to refinance at today's low interest rates if they are current on payments and hold loans on which they are more than 125% underwater.

 

The program is limited to homeowners whose loans are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That means no principal will be reduced, but it may be possible to get a lower interest rate and a lower payment. Homeowners who aren't eligible for HARP may be eligible for other modification programs.

 

The number of permits for new homes issued in February was the highest since October 2008. Housing starts declined slightly from January.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 20, 2012 7:52AM

© Andy Sacks/Getty ImagesBuilders started construction on fewer new homes in February, but pulled more construction permits, indicating that the housing market may be inching out of the doldrums.

 

The number of building permits issued in February rose 5.1%, equivalent to an annual construction pace of 717,000 homes. That's the highest number since October 2008 and 34.3% above last February's number.

 

According to the Commerce Department, the number of housing starts fell 1.1% from January, to a rate of 698,000 homes. That was an increase of 34.7% from last February's pace.

 
 

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